Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson continues to struggle with consistency in loss to Iowa
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
IOWA CITY, Iowa — It was a good news, bad news kind of game for Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson.
The good news is the junior quarterback was effective yet again on a fourth-quarter drive.
For the second time this season, Michigan needed a touchdown in the final minute. And, much like against Notre Dame, Robinson engineered an efficient drive that swiftly moved the ball down field.
Unlike against the Irish, though, this drive came up short in a 24-16 loss Saturday against Iowa.
Robinson threw 13 consecutive times on that drive -- out of a hurry-up offense Michigan calls "NASCAR" -- and completed five of them. The final four, each of which came from Iowa's 3-yard line, came up empty to seal the Wolverines' loss.
No. 13 Michigan falls to 7-2 on the season and 3-2 in Big Ten play, all-but-eliminating it from contention for a division title heading into next week's game at Illinois.
But coach Brady Hoke was happy with what he saw from his quarterback under pressure.
"I thought he played well," Hoke said. "I think he keeps growing as a quarterback."
However, Hoke also knows Michigan needed that comeback because of his team's poor play for much of the first three quarters. A lot of that comes back on Robinson.
That's always bad news for the Wolverines.
Most notably, with Michigan trailing 14-6 midway through the second quarter, Robinson committed two turnovers. The first was a fumble. He put the ball on the ground while trying to evade a defender, but lost it for a fumble. It led to an Iowa field goal that extended Michigan's deficit to 17-6.
On the Wolverines' next drive, which began near midfield due to a poor squib kick by the Hawkeyes, Robinson threw an interception at the goal line to ruin a scoring chance before halftime.
It was Robinson's 12th interception of the season. No quarterback in the country had more than 12 entering Saturday's games.
"Turnovers are the biggest thing," Robinson said. "Coach Hoke always tells us we got to keep the ball, we got to keep the ball, no turnovers."
It appeared Robinson forced the ball into heavy coverage, although Hoke said he was OK with the pass.
"I don’t know if it was forced, to be honest with ya," Hoke said. "He had the receiver."
Hoke was sure about one thing, though.
"That swung it," he said of the game's momentum.
Robinson finished 17-of-37 passing for 194 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, although several of those misses came on drops by receivers, especially early.
Still, Robinson had several misfires and again dealt with accuracy issues. He overthrew his target several times, including four times on that final drive. On one, Roundtree appeared to have his man beat for a touchdown, but could not catch up to the throw.
Robinson also was held to 12 carries for 55 yards, well below his season average.
The junior also had to leave the game for a series in the third quarter due to arm injury, although there were conflicting reports as to the specifics. He said he fell on his elbow, Hoke said it was his hand and the Michigan Radio Network said the training staff was working on his collarbone and shoulder region.
Backup Devin Gardner came on for Robinson on the drive. He threw only once -- it fell incomplete, then was nullified due to an Iowa penalty -- rushed three times and was sacked once. Michigan punted after six plays.
Robinson now has left three of his past four games with injury, after leaving 10 of 12 last year.